Second half blitz earns Park the win

Percy Park's Michael Grove makes a break for the line against Old Crossleyans. Picture by Paul Jackson.
Percy Park's Michael Grove makes a break for the line against Old Crossleyans. Picture by Paul Jackson.

Not even a hailstorm could damped Percy Park’s second half six try blitz of league strugglers Old Crossleyans after a first half showing that matched the weather – mixed.

Old Crossleyans were still in the game until the 65th minute with the scores 18-16 but ran out of steam at the end.

Both sides took to the field in bright sunshine, and Park dominated possession for 19 of the first 20 minutes, after Crocs’ left winger Chris Vine went over in the corner in the first minute.

Percy Park saw the return to the squad of James Ponton, Brett Sylph and Ali Blair. But were missing the influential Andy Dunn and Ben Bell from the pack.

The home side’s first points came from the boot of Paul Spowart after a quarter of an hour, but were denied two tries as the Old Crossleyans defence held up the Park forwards over the line.

The visitors scored their second try four minutes later again in the corner through Vine after a turnover gave their back line an attacking option wide out.

Crossleyans and Park exchanged penalties with Smith kicking three points for the hosts on the stroke of half time to leave them 13-6 down.

Park had to wait until the 50th minute for their first try, when Ali Blair crossed the line, splitting the defence after a Park scrum just outside the Old Crossleyans 22.

Park then took the lead through Jimmy Baldwin after a good mazy run from Michael Grove who put his wing man in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Crocs came back to within two points when Vine kicked a penalty on 56 minutes before Blair notched his second from an interception.

Old warhorse Jimmy Ponton marshalled his pack well and when Park started to gain the upper hand in the scrummage, set Olly Gilmore off down the left flank, but the Park scrum half was stopped inches short of the line. Ponton was on hand however to pick up and go over for the try that took Park 30-16 ahead.

Full back Grove was rewarded for his attacking skills when he was on the end of an Olly Gilmore pass after a scrum inside the Crossleyans 22.

The best try of the game came three minutes into added time after Blair cut loose down the left and found Smith in support. Smith, who had moved in from outside centre to his more accustomed fly half position, surged forward and unselfishly popped the back inside to Liam Blackburn to score under the posts. The final kick of the game was the conversion by Ash Smith and Park had in the end won comfortably 44-16.

It was all go at Preston Avenue with five games of rugby due to the luck of the Northumberland Cup draw.

The Lions won 59-14 at the expense of Morpeth Reivers, and will meet the winners of the semi final between Alnwick II and Northern Wanderers.

The Pumas went down to Novos II and the Percy Park Penguins lost narrowly 10-6 to Tynedale Veterans.

On the far pitch the Newcastle Ravens were knocked out of the cup by Ashington III.

Next week the 1st XV travel to McCracken Park to take on Northern with the Lions playing the Wanderers at Preston Avenue.